Original German WWII Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 by Anton Schenkls Nachfolger with Award Document & Ribbon - EKII

Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice patinated example of a German WWII Iron Cross 2nd Class 1939 (Eisernes Kreuz II. Klasse 1939) with its original rayon red, black, and white ribbon. Also included is the original BESITTZZEUGNIS "possession/award" certificate!

The award document indicates that it was awarded to Gefreiten Fritz Persch of 3. / Div. Füs. Btl. (A.A.) 79 (3rd Company 79th Division Foot Artillery Battalion (Anti Aircraft)). This is a Mannschaften (Enlisted) rank roughly equivalent to a Private First Class. It was awarded on 8. Juni. 1944, and has the ink stamp of Inf. Div. 79, and was also signed by what looks to read Weinknecht, for Division Commander Generalleutnant Friedrich-August Weinknecht. They are listed on the document as Generalmajor Kommandeur 79.Jnf.-Division, so this was awarded before Weinknecht was promoted.

The document has all the correct stamps and markings, and is the standard, 8" x 5.5", (20cm x 14cm), printed on mid-weight paper with black print and typed in particulars. It is in good condition, and was folded into quarters for some time, which lead to a tear in the middle, which was reinforced at some point with tape.

The 79th Infantry Division (79. Infanterie-Division) was was actually formed three times during the war, the first after it was captured after the battle of Stalingrad when the Sixth Army surrendered on January 31, 1943. It was then reformed from the remnants of other units outside of the Soviet encirclement on January 12, 1943. The division then took part in operations in the Novocherkassk area until relieved on March 13, 1943. It refitted in the Volnovakha area and in April 1943, returned to battle. It fought a number of defensive actions before reaching the Kuban bridgehead in August 1943. The division was evacuated to Ukraine retreating west with the rest of the German forces.

1944 found the 79th in Romania as a part of IV Korps, 6th Army. By August, the 79th was one of the divisions attempting to hold the city of Jassy. On August 23, 1944, with the Romanian coup, the 79th was once again encircled and virtually annihilated near Chitcani, Romania on the Berlad River. Less than 1,000 soldiers managed to escape. Generalleutnant Friedrich Weinknecht and the division surrendered to the Red Army.

The Iron Cross itself is maker marked with marked with a MINISCULE Präsidialkanzlei des Führers Lieferant (Presidential Chancellery Supplier) number 27 on the hanger ring, which represents maker Anton Schenkls Nachfolger of Vienna, Austria

The cross itself is a very fine example with crisp beading. The silvering to the frame has a lovely tarnished patina and looks great! The core paint on the iron center is also almost fully complete on both sides, with no wear on the Swas (Swas) or other raised portions. The cross comes with its original ribbon, properly installed on the award.

A great example of the most iconic of all German awards, complete with an original award document and ribbon, ready to display!

Please also note the edge seam for authentication, which is not present on reproductions. Iron crosses were commonly constructed from an iron core sandwiched in a surrounding two part silver frame, normally the seam of these two silver parts is visible around the edge of the cross as is seen on this fine example.

There is no more iconic German military award than the Iron Cross. The long history of this order began during the Napoleonic Wars. King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia instituted the “Eisernes Kreuz” (Iron Cross) in March of 1813. The award criteria changed somewhat with time, but generally speaking, Iron Crosses could be awarded for individual acts of bravery, or for leadership achievements on the battlefield. The design was created by a Karl Friedrich Schinkel, his choice of the black cross with silver outline was derived from the heraldic emblem of the Teutonic Knights.

There were a number of different type and grades of Iron Cross awards throughout its long history, but the basic details of the most widely awarded grades: The Iron Cross 1st Class and Iron Cross 2nd Class- remained the same. The first class award was a breast badge, with fittings on the reverse to allow it to be worn on the uniform. These fittings varied widely over time and from maker to maker, and could be a simple in and catch, a screw post and retaining disc, or more elaborate setups. The second class award was suspended from a ribbon, originally in the Prussian colors of black and white, later in the Reich colors of black, red and white.

On the original versions of these crosses, in 1813, the front of the iron core of each grade was bare, and only the second class award had ornamentation: a crown over the initials “FW” representing the King, a sprig of oak leaves, and the date 1813. The core was redesigned in 1870, when the cross was re-instituted during the Franco-Prussian War. The reverse ornamentation on the Iron Cross 2nd Class remained the same, but the front of the core on both grades now bore another crown, a “W” representing Kaiser Wilhelm, and the date 1870. This pattern repeated again when the cross was reinstituted for WWI- everything stayed the same, only the date 1870 was replaced with 1914.

The final reinstitution of the cross came in 1939. For this version, the front of the core for both grades bore a swas and the date 1939. The oak leaves, crown and royal initials were removed from the reverse, with only the date 1813 remaining as a reminder of the legacy of this award. In WWII, hundreds of thousands of Iron Cross First Class awards were bestowed, and four and a half million Iron Cross Second Class awards. Iron Crosses were made by a large number of authorized manufacturers. Some variants of these awards were mass produced in huge numbers. Others were made in very limited quantities.

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